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A 'happy crew' and unlimited vacation: What it's like working at Zoom

·Technology Editor
·6 min read
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As the latest wave of the coronavirus continues to surge across the U.S., employees fortunate enough to work from home are still turning to video chat software like Zoom (ZM) or Google (GOOG, GOOGL) Meet to stay in touch with their colleagues.

The availability of software like Zoom — which saw its number of meeting participants jump from 10 million per day in Dec. 2019 to 300 million in April — is a double-edged sword. It enables employees to stay connected but makes it tough to disconnect from work. Zoom employees, of course, also have to figure out how to balance work and home life, as they’re all working remotely amid the pandemic, too.

But, since Zoom workers are also in Zoom meetings much of the day, they have a first-hand understanding of customers’ needs. That’s part of the reason we named Zoom Yahoo Finance’s Company of the Year.

“We sent our employees home in early March,” Zoom CFO Kelly Steckelberg told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview. “And the advantage, of course, that we had is that we all live on this technology every day. So we didn't have to adapt to that.”

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Zoom founder Eric Yuan reacts at the Nasdaq opening bell ceremony on April 18, 2019 in New York City. The video-conferencing software company announced it's IPO priced at $36 per share, at an estimated value of $9.2 billion. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Zoom founder Eric Yuan reacts at the Nasdaq opening bell ceremony on April 18, 2019 in New York City. The video-conferencing software company announced it's IPO priced at $36 per share, at an estimated value of $9.2 billion. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

While Zoom staffs up to meet the demands of its growing user base, executives say it wants to maintain the culture employees enjoyed prior to the explosive gains it has seen during the pandemic complete. That culture includes social gatherings for holidays, virtually of course, and a focus on employee wellness.

Working at Zoom over Zoom

Zoom has 3,800 employees in locations ranging from its headquarters in San Jose to New York and London all the way to Shanghai and Tokyo., up from 2,500 before the pandemic.

Since the pandemic has kept them working from home, Zoom employees likely use the service more than ever. Still, the transition to remote work hasn’t been as dramatic for Zoom as it might have been for others not accustomed to using video chat software on a daily basis.

See also: 3 reasons Tesla isn’t our Company of the Year

The company has, however, had to adapt to bringing on so many new employees amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has provided its own unique challenge.

“About a third of our workforce today has been hired during the last nine months, which means they've never stepped foot in an office, they've never met their manager or their teammates in person,” Steckelberg, the CFO, explained.

With so many new employees joining when coworkers were far apart, Steckelberg said the company has tried to find ways to maintain morale despite the physical distance. Part of that experience has involved what Zoom calls its “Happy Crew,” which provides employees with unique experiences every month to ensure they’re productive and content.

“We had one that was all about setting up your work from home environment with a mug and some exercise bands, things like that just to make us all more productive and healthy during this time. They sent out one for Diwali, and we had an online Diwali celebration which was amazing. I loved it. It was so beautiful,” Steckelberg said, referring to India’s biggest holiday.

Employees and guests of Zoom celebrate at Nasdaq as the company holds its IPO, Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. The videoconferencing company is headquartered in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Employees and guests of Zoom celebrate at Nasdaq as the company holds its IPO, Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. The videoconferencing company is headquartered in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

With gyms in certain areas of the country closed, Steckelberg said, Zoom, which usually offers a monthly gym membership allowance, has since turned that into a monthly stipend that employees can use for things including food and grocery delivery.

Zoom also advocates for mental health and heart disease awareness, recently partnering with the American Heart Association. It also has a monthly Zoom Rendezvous that lets employees from different geographic areas meet and chat.

And workers seem to appreciate Zoom’s culture. According to job reviews site Glassdoor, Zoom has consistently received high marks for its corporate environment, coming in second out of 100 in Glassdoor’s 2019 Best Places to Work Employees’ Choice Awards.

See also: Our Company of the Year is a good investment, even a year later

Zoom received similar marks from the job listing site Comparably, with employees naming it the happiest place to work in 2019 out of the top 100 highest-rated firms and again in 2020.

‘We’re being very thoughtful about boundaries’

CEO Eric Yuan, who in a recent interview at Web Summit said he enjoys working long hours, received high marks from employees who rated him the top CEO out of 100 in the 2019 Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards with a 99% approval rating. He shares workspaces with employees on teams he’s focused on rather than maintaining a separate office of his own, according to Zoom.

Yuan also commits to just two outside business meetings a year, believing that most can be held over Zoom, as he did in the lead-up to the company’s initial public offering in 2019.

See also: How Zoom became ‘critical infrastructure’ for millions of kids learning online

While Zoom employees have overwhelmingly positive reviews about working there, they do cite certain drawbacks. Those include Zoom’s need for more staff amid its growing user base and rapid shifts in customers’ needs as that base changes to include more individuals.

With the usual boundaries between the workday and off hours crumbling as employees work from home, Zoom insists its workers take vacations and refrain from working on weekends.

“We're being very thoughtful about boundaries to ensure that we give people, you know, some space,” Steckelberg said. “It's really easy in this work from home environment to have your days extend. So [we’re] being very thoughtful about that.”

The company doesn’t have a set time off policy, but instead offers unlimited time, a practice pioneered by Netflix. Even with so-called unlimited vacation, some employee reviews on Glassdoor mention it’s been difficult to find time to take off amid the company’s meteoric rise.

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